September 16th, 2009
11:37 AM ET
5 years ago

Republicans say Carter playing 'race card'

 Republicans say Carter is playing the 'race card.'
Republicans say Carter is playing the 'race card.'

(CNN) - The Republican National Committee is hitting back at former President Jimmy Carter's recent comments stating racial politics has played a role in some of the opposition the president has faced since taking office and in South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's speech to Congress last week.

"President Carter is flat out wrong. This isn't about race. It is about policy," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement Wednesday. "This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president's wildly unpopular government-run health care plan that the American people simply oppose."

"Injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families doesn't create jobs, reform our health care system or reduce the growing deficit. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation," Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, also said.

Carter's comments came in an interview with NBC News Tuesday, during which he stated, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American."

Carter made similar remarks at an event at his presidential center in Atlanta, Georgia, pointing to some protesters who have compared Obama to a Nazi. "Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," the former president said at the Carter Center, according to AP. "It's deeper than that."

Steele said such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to "disparage all who disagree with them."

"Playing the race card shows that Democrats are willing to deal from the bottom of the deck. Our political system has no place for this type of rhetoric," said Steele.

(Steele will visit The Situation Room Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm ET)

Follow Alex Mooney on Twitter @awmooneycnn


Filed under: Jimmy Carter • RNC
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Babs

    He wasn't a good President, he need to go back to his hammer an nails.

    September 16, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Ben

    Gimme a break. Republicans are using the 'nazi' card, so how can they complain.

    September 16, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Island girl

    Wilson claime, in a news interiew, that there is a double standard as regards this issue citing that Bush was openly booed in a similar setting. Let me clarify something if I may: Booing is an act of disgust, displeasure, disapproval (take your pick). Being called a liar is not only disrespectful and insubordinate, but most importantly an ACCUSATION – no ifs ands or buts. These two emotional outbursts are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, the latter being more serious and in some instances grounds for legal proceedings.

    September 16, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  4. Proud American

    I love this puppet that the Republican have put in place called " Steele". Does he even know that he is a puppet? There is a reason he is the first African American chairman of RNC. They pick him, a Black guy (Republican) to talk bad about Obama. Rush has more power and has more influence than he does. Yeah so they can't look like their not racist...Please!!! It did not work for McCain picking up Palin to get all the women vote because Palin is clueless and brainless. Jimmy Carter grew up in the South and he knows and have seen it all and I agree with him. Please explain why all these radicals (Tea bag party) are chanting we want our country back. Last time I check the US still belonged to the American people.

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Independent thinker at age 25, oh and i'm white

    While i do believe that unfortunately all people do have some racest tendencies, i do not believe it is the primary reason why a minority of people against obama's policies are against his policies. I believe the two major factors are misinfomation and partisan politics.

    and in regards to the "race card" in politics i strongly believe that when a party says someones using the "race card" it takes away from the point at hand, which is healthcare, and polarizes racial divides which in turn makes america take a back step in the whole racial equality battle.

    So in short this is not about race, this is about whats doing right for this country and everyone in it, and thats to pass a bill on healthcare reform, whatever reform that may be.

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. ber6964

    Finally a voice (Carter) who is actually confronting the real driving force of the Tea Party contingent of America..

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. An Ex-NC-Pub

    Just take a look at those participating.... show me one... just one person of color. I live among and work among these people; I know for what they stand... and it is not health care they are concerned about!

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  8. RICO

    I might not be ther Republican party that has a problem with Obama's race, but i know that a lot of people are against his policies simply cause he's black, and I'm sure a lot of the Republican support is coming from that.

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. ARAPIKOS

    Why don't you kids take a "timeout" and go back being adults. Our young folks are really tired of all of you acting like you are striving for the ole' ways. They are gone and will NEVER return. If they do, you will not be a able to function under the yoke of ignorance–at all.

    September 16, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. PJ

    Carter playing the race card is a prime example of what keeps racism allive and well in America. Because Pres Obama happens to be black, any criticism leveled at him is equated to racism. The fact that the Congressman believed him to be lying was based on what Obama was saying (or not saying); it was not based on what color his skin was when he said it. So many white Americans have been accused of racism when dealing with minorities that many just give up and say "Well if you believe that I am racist and I can't convince you otherwise, then I just as well REALLY be a racist".

    To the minority communites of America and to their apologists, I say accept the fact that people of other races will not always agree with your beliefs or actions. Also accept the fact that this disagreement is not neccessarily based on your race but on your actions or your beliefs.

    September 16, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Roger

    I am a white male & live in the south & let me just say President Carter is exactly right about racism & I have felt like this long before President Carter made his statement....I live & work around people who are racists & just about everyone of them are republicans...THEY FEEL THAT anyone who is BLACK is not capable of doing any job that is not hard labor & that BLACK people are "beneath" them in society. I am sure this is nation wide & not just in the South BUT if anyone looking at the so called Sept. 12 march on DC & the tea parties there are tones of racism. I am sure the White House does not want to be accused of using the race card BUT I am also sure they know exactly what is going on, President Obama is to smart of a man not to know what is going on & I commend him for this....

    September 16, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Brady

    I'm inclined to agree with the Republicans. Rep. Wilson's outburst had nothing to do with the fact that President Obama is black. Democrats always play the race card whenever it suits them, and this is no exception.

    September 16, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Sue

    I disagree, I don't believe that democrats are "playing" the race card. I do believe with some Americans there a racial element to the debate. Does that mean that everyone who is angry with government or does not like the President is "playing" the race card...of course not. But it is a mistake for the Republicans to deny that there is some element there.
    What would have been smarter of the republicans is to denounce the racial tone and to keep on message. When you have one of the organizers of the Tea Party Express on CNN telling American that Obama is "Indonesian Muslim that is a welfare thug" you can't deny racism. This is the stuff that needs to be denounced as racist.
    Quite frankly, because it isn't ...I as a white independent no longer LISTEN to the republicans.
    They only tinker in "fear" and "wedge" politics and THAT is not helpful to the direction of this country.

    September 16, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. RMc

    Go Jimmy! He's absolutely right. Have you seen some of the signs those tea-party knuckleheads have been waving around? The witch doctor, for example. They say their disagreements are based on policy and not race, but they hold up extremely racist signs and are grossly misinformed about the policies in question. There is no excuse for anyone to be so completely ignorant in this great country. Our collective national intelligence is being brought down by these morons.

    You tell 'em Jimmy!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Jim

    The main message I hear from these protesters isn't about health care so much as "We want our country back." To some extent I felt that way when Bush was president, but this seems to be more than just having lost an election. At the least I think the pictures of Obama as a witch doctor seem to be race baiting to me.

    September 16, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Cruz

    What planet does Michael Steele live on!?The fact that the Republican Party puts him out in front of the microphone to respond to charges of racism is purely racist in itself. I mean who better to challenge Carter's and the Democratic party's charges of racism that Mr. Steele. Later on in life, when this is all part of history, Mr. Steele will hopefully look in the mirror and recognize the role that he's chosen for his self: that of a good ole' Uncle Tom ready to take orders with a quick, "Yes, suh". The race card is very much alive and has been played over and over again by both sides.

    September 16, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Shari, NY

    Race card or not, Mr. Wilson's outburst was disrespecul. I cannot imagine what would have happened if it were the other way around. I am so glad that President Obama is the last hope for instilling moral values and respect in the youth. Thank god his mother/grandmother raised him right.

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. me

    Amazing...You can always tell when someone is telling the truth: Republicans slither from under their mucus pits and scream...well...you know what they scream.

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. Right Leaning Independent

    Lets see, 95% of blacks vote for Obama but are not racist. Obama considers police officer racist without knowing the facts. Is Steele now going to be considered racist? I mean I understand the Democrats want to paint all whites that disagree as racist but Steele is black. Does that make him an Uncle Tom? Carter must have been hit on the head with a hammer or 2×4...

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Jay

    When you refuse to debate and shout "racist" over and over again, you only prove that you have no valid argument. I cannot understand the mentality it takes to assume that everyone that disagrees with you is a racist. Does that mean that any non-white that disagrees with one is a racist? Must be since anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist. This is why the power-elite liberals love to keep minorities poor and keep the standard of education low. They can keep telling minorities that they are victims and that only the compassionate liberals will save them. Liberals are the biggest race baiters and do more to hold minorities back than anyone else.

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Dave

    No offense Jimmy, but it's time for you to retire from public life, go fishing, grow peanuts, and keep your opinions to yourself.

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. cate

    President Carter is absolutely right! All you have to do is watch the YouTube videos from Saturday's protest!! You will see two things: 1) Racism is alive in this country, I will not repeat some of the vile language which these people used and 2) they haven't a clue what they are protesting about (ie: couldn't understand that Bush started the bailouts and couldn't speak to one thing that is in the healthcare reform bills!!)..what a sorry state that these people just follow like robots spewing the talking points given to them and they haven't a clue!! These people do not deal in facts just talking points...how sad! Finally, the statement is funny coming from Steele, who was only elected because of his race (which has been admitted to by some in this party) and then they proceed to take away all financial responsibility from him, something which has never been done before. The reality of the situation has become apparent: racism is alive in this country and is being passed down from generation to generation. Racism is taught!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. James, Phoenix AZ

    President Carter is absolutely correct. It is race coupled with the rage that many Republicans still feel about losing the election. President Obama's popularity is also galling to these same Republicans.

    September 16, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. njsardine

    Ok and I guess Michael Steele also thinks he was appointed as Chairman of the RNC strictly based on his qualifications... As Michelle Bachman clearly stated, "YOUUU BE DA MANNNNN!" Give me a break....

    These people (Republicans) feel as though there is no problem with this country - the dropout rate is one of the highest among industrialized nations, but be should not be allowed to talk to school children. There is no problem health care system in this country, so we should not bother trying to fix it...

    Please tell me what did we elect this man to do? Nothing? Were these not the issues he campaigned on?

    September 16, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Jatovi, NC

    It is sad but what Carter says is true. To think that just because President Obama was elected means that racism is now over is an ignorant thought.

    September 16, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
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